Monday, April 27, 2015

LakbayLoyd Lighthouse Series 24: EL FARO DE PUNTA BUGUI, Aroroy, Masbate

Brief History

Faro De Punta Bugui is located in Bugui Point, Aroroy in the northwest point of the province of Masbate. The lighthouse's location, the route from San Bernardino Strait going to Manila also called as "Southern Passage", was considered a prime spot during the famed Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade and this lighthouse was the first to be identified as being of great significance. It lighted the channel between Burias Island and Masbate Island and the channel between Burias and Ticao Islands leading to San Bernardino Strait.

Bugui Point Lighthouse was part of the initial plan during that massive construction frenzy during the Spanish colonial era in the Philippines. Work on the light started in 1893 but was stopped in 1896 with the onset of the Philippine Revolution. the Americans later on continued the construction of the entire structure and the light was finally lit in 1902.

Its design, a Victorian style of architecture, was made of masonry of what seemed to look like coral stones cut in accordance to wherever it may fit the solid wall about one meter wide. Decorative metal grilles creatively designed surround the fence, balconies and windows.

As of this writing, the lighthouse's condition is disheartening - considering its historical value and the fact that it is located in one of the most important and beautiful points in the region, or the entire archipelago. Roofs were damaged with recent strong typhoons and the entire structure totally dilapidated.

With Sir Edwin Ferro

How Did I Get There

The day that followed after my Bagatao Island Lighthouse was intended for my visit to San Bernardino Island Lighthouse located in Bulusan, Sorsogon. Shortly before we left for the San Bernardino Strait, the boatman and guide told me that the sea is unsafe for travel due to amihan, and will last for three days. I grabbed my bag and left Bulusan immediately to catch the last trip on board Montenegro Liner, the fastest sea vessel navigating Pilar Port to Masbate Port daily.

I arrived Masbate City after exactly two hours, had a courtesy visit to the Office of the Provincial Tourism Officer of Masbate, the very pleasant and admirable Mr. Gerardo "Butchoy" Presado. He introduced me to Governor Vicente Homer Revil and wife, Vice-Governor Kaye Revil and had a couple of chat. The Governor was equally accommodating and welcomed me with please.

With Gov. Revil and Mr.Butchoy Presado
During my stay in Masbate, Sir Butchoy Presado took care of all I need despite his busy schedule preparing for the Rodeo Festival and my short notice. He arranged my hotel at Greenview  Hotel and dinner that night in Masbate City, and introduced me to Mr. Edwin Ferro, who will be my official guide for the next two days. The plan was to get to Aroroy for the Punta Bugui Lighthouse the next day and to Jintotolo Lighthouse in Balud the following day.

As early as 5am, Sir Edwin and I left Masbate for Aroroy. We reached Aroroy Port after 2 hours riding on his habal-habal. Prior to my visit, I was in contact with Mr. Tony Ferrer, the executive assistant to the mayor of Aroroy, Masbate who negotiated the boat rental. After a few chat with Mr. Ferrer, we headed to Punta Bugui on a boat (on a cute small boat, hehe) he earlier arranged for P1500 (how costly for that size of a boat, wow!). Thank you Mr. Ferrer for all the help.

We met some local fishermen as our boat approached the beach of Bugui Point. Being unfamiliar, we asked a couple of them to walk with us up the hill toward the lighthouse. A group of medical students from Manila also visited the lighthouse that day, with whom I shared and discussed the significance of this lighthouse.

It was shortly after 12 noon when we got back to Port of Aroroy. Tired, starving and dehydrated due to intense heat, I was very satisfied to have seen and observed my 24th visit to a historic Philippine lighthouse. One exciting part of our trip was to see for the first time a school of young dolphins, maybe more than a hundred, jumping up and down moving toward Burias Island.

Tip: If taking a public transport from Masbate City, airconditioned vans going to Aroroy are available daily on regular intervals. From Aroroy Port, a number of fishing boats can be rented for Punta Bugui on cheaper price (P500 round-trip).

Postscript: While in Pilar, Sorsogon, I am indebted to Mr, Joel Navora, the friendly Tourism Officer of the town of Pilar, Sorsogon, who assisted me and bought my ticket before it get sold-out and personally handed me maybe the last ticket available for that trip. Kudos, Sir Joel!
With Sir Joel Navora

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